Colony Pods is an upgrade available to the Orkulus Star Base. Much like the Merchant Trade Bays modules for your starbase, Colony Pods are used to help fuel your empire's economy by generating a small amount of credits per second, however it does it in a slightly different way; habitats are installed inside the station for civil living and collects taxes off their residents.
While the research for this is accessed earlier and cheaper than most upgrades due to being unlocked after building three Lirtestra Weapons Labs and not requiring another prerequisite research, it's recommended to skip over this for merchant bays. This is because Merchant Bays can take advantage of trade routes to increase the amount of credits they generate per second, whereas Colony Pads are largely independent from your overall economy. They also need more investiment to get the most out of them, as they have two levels to build off, compared to the trade bays' one.